Forgot what I was gonna say . . . .
Anyway this blog post actually has to do with writing! And reading. So books in general.
This is what we’re going to be talking about; genres. Types of stories. Which ones I like, which ones I don’t, what needs to be done when writing them, good examples of them that I have read.
(These are all going to be within fiction, by the way. Nonfiction and I don’t . . . just . . . no)
(They’re also going to be kind of generalized because there are a LOT of very specific genres)
Sooooo here we go!
This one’s gotta go first, cos, it’s me. I generally enjoy fantasy, and will usually look in fantasy books first when exploring the library. But there are several kinds of fantasy, and they are very different.
High fantasy is probably what your immediate thought was when this chunk started. Elves, dragons, swords, portals to medieval worlds, lots of Chosen Ones and magic. There are lots of these that I like, such as Lord of the Rings and Narnia (of course) and ones like Water Princess Fire Prince and The Ankulen (both by Kendra E. Ardnek), The Map To Everywhere, The Hero’s Guide series, Fly By Night, The Books of Bayern, The Ilyon Chronicles, Story Thieves, Half Upon A Time, The Heart of Arcrea, The Grimjinx Prophecies, The False Prince . . .
The list goes on.
I read a lot of these.
Then there’s Low fantasy, which is more like magic and crazy happenings, but in a real-world setting. Books like What We Found In The Sofa and How It Changed The World (-big breath-) The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Eventown, The Girl Who Could See, Bliss, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Tuck Everlasting, The Clockwork Three. I haven’t read as many of these, but most of them I enjoy.
Fantasy is my favorite to write. You can do anything you want, anything, you make the rules, you’re in control, you can have as much fun as you want. However that can be intimidating to some people, especially when you start thinking of all the world-building from scratch and cultures you have to develop from thin air and languages that have to be as complex and genius as Tolkien’s and-
Lemme learn you a thing, kids and otherwise; nothing is original. Nothing is created completely from scratch with no inspiration from anything else. And no one is going to cry PLAGIARISM if your story is similar in plot or setting to the six bajillion other books in this genre. How good authors do is they take bits and pieces from all their favorite books, stories they admire and writers they look up to, experiences and stories from real life, mash it all together and boom, story that everyone loves.
And also you don’t need a whole new language. You just don’t. Trust me.
(This whole thing goes for the other genres too, but fantasy writers especially get hung up on it.)
And even though fantasy is basically pure imagination, you still need to do research.
Yup, research. Look up how actual sword wounds and blunt force trauma work. Search what kinds of food, technology, language, clothing, education, jobs, weapons would be probable in the approximate time period of your setting. Learn about weather patterns, about geography, figure out how having two moons would affect weather and gravity and tides and seasons (still need to do that one . . .) and please
Research how actual sword wounds, arrow wounds, bullet wounds, concussions, black eyes, blood loss, poisons, infections, broken bones, and the like work, how they happen, and how they heal.
Few things are as annoying as when somebody knows nothing about injuries and writes a character getting hit by a train and then fighting ten guys without batting an eye.
(That was exaggeration, but you get my point)
And AND if you’re using magic, figure it out as much as you can. Some things can be left as ‘Uhhhh I dunno, it’s magic’ but the more you know about how it works, the more real it will seem, which means it will be much easier to fall in love with.
That’s a lot to take in, but my ultimate advice on the fantasy genre is have fun with it! That’s what it’s there for!
Sorry, there’s more to sci-fi than just Star Wars.
I think . . .
Science Fiction, a strange and glowy and zoomy place where laser guns and spaceships and cyborgs abound. Like fantasy, it’s a genre where you can let your imagination run wild. Except instead of magic, you have science.
Sort of, anyway.
To be completely honest, I haven’t read much sci-fi. Star Wars, of course, I have read a lot of, but other than that I’m not very into it. A Wrinkle In Time counts I think, as do The Lunar Chronicles, but those are also fantasy. The line between can be very blurry.
After a bit of thinking, I have discovered that I actually write a lot of sci-fi. Not as novels (not yet, anyway) but when I write with friends or in my private just-for-fun docs, because steampunk and cyberpunk count as sci-fi!
In that case there’s also The Fog Diver, which I ADORE.
The tips I have are pretty much similar to the ones for fantasy, but with some additions. First of all, it’s called science fiction. Not that lightsabers and nanofog are exactly science, but in their world they are. When creating crazy stuff for your story, take the time to figure out how it could be possible in the real world, even if it really couldn’t. Then make it fit with your story. Will biotechnology ever become advanced enough to make real, awesome cyborgs a thing? Probably not. But could it in a futuristic world where of COURSE there are cyborgs because -explain worldbuilding and history here-? Yup.
Here we are again.
I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I have read a lot. My mom has a whole three bookshelves of it in the schoolroom closet. Some that I do actually enjoy are Johnny Tremain ( <3), Carry On Mr. Bowditch, Esperanza Rising, Victory, The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed, Regina Silsby’s Secret War, The Bronze Bow, To Kill a Mockingbird. If you really want to talk to someone about hisfic, find my friend Elizabeth. She adores it. I usually don’t like it because for one thing, they are very often focused on either romance or tragedy. I’m an action-comedy type gal.
But as some of you know, I am attempting to write one. A hisfic, I mean. It’s also a mystery (which is a whole different thing that I will address later) so it’s double hard. But I have learned some things in the past couple months.
First, if you want to write something taking place in the actual real world in a time that is not now, then I’m very sorry but research is now your life. You need to know everything. At least, everything that your characters will be interacting with.
So yeah, everything.
Some of it is fun. I went down a two hour rabbithole of Victorian London slang terms and thieves’ cant a while back. I found Bernadette Banner’s Youtube channel and learned ALLLLLL the historical clothing things. I read Great Expectations and loved it. I watched a weird Charles Dickens mashup show with all of his books at once and got very confused.
Some of it is not fun. Even after scouring the internet and the few books I have access to without the library being an option, I still cannot for the life of me figure out who was in Parliament in the summer of 1861 and what those people were like and who is a likely candidate to have been murdered.
Which is where I come to the next thing. Some things you will never find out, because nobody knows or thought to document them. THAT is where the writer thrives, in the unknown between events. Nobody knows why the Tooley Street Fire started. Why couldn’t it have been a cigar end thrown by a careless lookout sent to watch for an annoying detective and his apprentice? No one knows exactly how Paul Revere and Joseph Warren learned of the British attack on Lexington. Why couldn’t it have been discovered by a sixteen-year-old former silversmith working as a stable boy? Just make sure that after the story you specify what’s what and what isn’t and what could have been.
Excuse me while I gag.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore a good romantic subplot. I squeal when there are cute scenes where the characters get all blushy and nervous cos they love each other. I yell at the pages JUST KISS HIM ALREADY! I watch Pride and Prejudice and cheer when Darcy and Lizzie FINALLY figure out their feelings and get married.
But a book solely focused on a romantic relationship?
The only two I can think of right now that I have read multiple times and thoroughly enjoyed are The Enchanted Barn and The Voice In The Wilderness by Grace Livingston Hill. By all rights I should despise those books because a) romance b) almost no action for the majority of the books and c) the heroines are so dang perfect??? like seriously I don’t think they do anything wrong except be slightly stupid and incredibly annoying with their perfectness.
But . . . . still I love them.
Yeah I don’t get it either.
Besides the MCs the characters are fantastic, and the plot is well-thought-out and interesting — though maybe a bit on the boring side for a woman of my high-adrenaline needs — and the settings are nice and homely and chill. And while the main focus of the story is the relationship between the girl and her guy, it doesn’t really feel like it because there’s a whole story going on at the same time.
I don’t really have any practical tips except please don’t write a romance if you don’t have a story to go with it.
Apologies to any romance writers out there I’m SORRY I’m just really weird okay
I put these two together because they’re similar and very often the same thing. And before you ask, NO I haven’t read The Hunger Games, or seen the movies. I have however read The Giver series and The Fog Diver and . . . . if I’ve read more I can’t remember.
I wanna write one of these, but it will be in the far future most likely and involve rust-fungus and floating cities.
Yeahhh I’ve not much to say here.
I’ve always loved mysteries. When I was around five to eleven years old, so yeah practically my whole childhood, I was obsessed with mysteries. I read all the Nancy Drew I could get my hands on, I read all the American Girl Mysteries, some Sherlock Holmes, some random books at my grandma’s house that kind of traumatized me. I’d always wanted to write one.
Until I actually thought about it.
And then BOOM
And now I’m writing one.
Besides series like Nancy Drew, there are certain mystery book that I just love. The London Eye Mystery, Father Brown (in my opinion better than Sherlock), The Westing Game, Fly By Night, The Clockwork Sparrow and sequels, The Mystery of the Singing Mermaid. There are a lot more, like a lot more, but I’ve already listed way too many books in this blog post.
Mysteries are hard. You have to know EXACTLY what is going on the whole time in order to fit everything together. Outlining is a thing. For me that is hard. For you, maybe, it isn’t. If that is true I envy you, reader.
Since I don’t particularly know what I’m doing yet, I don’t know what kind of tips I can give. Other than RESEARCH, and have beta-readers so you know that what you’re writing is neither as easy to figure out as The Hidden Staircase (book #2 of the Nancy drew series) nor as confusing and brain-hurty as whatever the heck Once Upon A Time tries to do.
I believe that’s all I’ve got for you guys today. I know there are more genres than what I’ve covered, but these are the biggest ones and ones that I have personal experience with.
(Except contemporary fiction. I don’t know what to do with that one.)
So do you like this style of post? Would you like more? Can you tell that I’m very tired while writing this? Can you see the slow descent into exhausted madness as the post goes on?
I really should never wait until Sunday night to write these.
And yet every week I do.
So yeah, leave a like for my poor tired brain, subscribe if you like this sort of thing, tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell your plants and your pets, and please never write a romance without a story to go along with it.